[Dr. Atul Nischal, Founder Director, ICSL]
If life and business in the post coronavirus era is not expected to be the same as before, why should schools be any different? If you are thinking that one day into the near future, the government will allow the schools to reopen and everything will be the same as it has always been, you may be soon a minority.
First, a few facts:
Till the time a vaccine is readily available, all of us will want to protect ourselves from this virus, irrespective of our age or existing health conditions.
We are not expecting a vaccine anytime soon.
Social distancing reduces the chances of our getting infected. Everyone is getting used to maintaining distance while at home or outside. This mindset will further grow till the time we are a coronavirus free society.
We have witnessed the horrific scenarios of the health infrastructure collapsing in some of the most developed countries of the world. We would want our families to avoid the need of hospitalization at any cost.
If we agree on these basic facts, let me extract two hypotheses for now.
Hypothesis 1: All PTM’s Will be Conducted Using Web-conferencing Tools.
The lockdown has forced teachers and students to use several web-conferencing tools. Even in smaller towns and cities where Web Ex, Zoom, or Skype are not present, people are increasingly using Face time or Whatsapp video calls to connect remotely. Post coronavirus, everyone will question the need of taking the risk and putting the effort of having a 5-10 minutes face to face meeting with the teacher when alternative ways are easily available and free.
So far, I have not been able to identify any reason why the format of PTMs will and should not change.
Hypothesis 2: New Space and Time Management Processes Will Be Defined
Schools witness crowding during specific and well identified times such as when the school opens in the morning, students moving to and from the assembly, lunch break, sports periods, activity periods, school closing times. There are certain spaces like entry gates, canteen, sports grounds, etc. where crowding is seen. Apart from these classrooms in schools are designed to optimally seat the maximum number of students.
Schools must begin redesigning the processes that define usage of various spaces as well as realign school timetables to ensure social distancing. Chances are that even when the schools are asked to reopen, some guidelines will be prescribed for all schools to follow. And, the local district officers may oversee the implementations of these guidelines. In the worst-case scenario, if any child of the school or her/his family is infected with the virus, the school may be declared a hotspot and shut again.
Do you agree with these hypotheses? How would you go about preparing for the future after coronavirus? Do write back at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your thoughts.
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